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Ohio State Football: Looking Back at the Buckeyes' 2018 Recruiting Class (Part One)

Matthew Baldwin, Ohio State Buckeyes Football

A look at the members of Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class that have left the Buckeyes and continued their college football careers elsewhere.

On Feb. 7, 2018, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer completed what would prove to be his final recruiting class for the Buckeyes. Meyer wound up signing 26 players, with the class ranked second nationally in the 247Sports Composite.

The class was diverse nationally, with the state of Ohio supplying five players. Florida provided four players, while other states such as California, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia also were represented.

Heading into the 2021 season, most of the 2018 recruiting class has remained intact, with only seven players departing the program. Part one of this series will focus on those players who left Ohio State, and  it will provide a glimpse into what they are doing or have done since moving on.

My personal history when it comes to analyzing Ohio State recruiting classes goes back to 2005, when the new Buckeyes included the likes of James Laurinaitis, Brian Hartline, and Malcolm Jenkins. That class was relatively small at just 18 players and was not highly regarded by recruiting analysts, but the coaching staff only lost three from that class due to transfer or academic issues, resulting in 15 who either started or contributed to Ohio State during their careers. This 83 percent success rate ranks that group highly in the unofficial "Rule of Thirds" concept that is applied to recruiting classes.

With seven players no longer on the roster from the 2018 recruiting class of 26 players, that only results in a 27 percent loss. Below, we will examine the reasons why these players are no longer with Ohio State, beginning from when the player verbally committed to the program.

1. Brian Snead, RB

Snead was the first player in the 2018 recruiting class to verbally commit to Ohio State, and he also was among the first to leave. Snead played sparingly in the first few games of the 2018 season before getting suspended for what turned out to be the remainder of the season. After the season, Snead transferred to Iowa Western Community College before moving on to FCS Austin Peay. This spring, Peay led the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing with 434 yards in seven games, to go along with four touchdowns. He's expected to lead the Governors' backfield this fall.

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2. Jaelen Gill, HB

From nearby Westerville, Ohio, Gill was signed as an H-Back. A tweener at running back and wide receiver, Gill struggled to make an impact for the Buckeyes. Gill transferred to Boston College to join head coach Jeff Hafley, who took over the Eagles after the 2019 season after serving as Ohio State's co-defensive coordinator. Gill, now a redshirt junior, put up solid numbers for Boston College in 2020, finishing with 29 receptions for 435 yards and a touchdown.

3. Max Wray, OT

Wray verbally committed to Ohio State at the 2017 spring game. Wray started against Michigan State last season as the Buckeyes employed a makeshift offensive line due to COVID-19 issues. Wray announced his intentions to transfer prior to the start of winter conditioning and landed at Colorado in May. Wray could factor in at left tackle right away for the Buffaloes, especially with returning starter Frank Fillip expected to miss the first few games. 

4. L'Christian "Blue" Smith, WR

In early 2019, Smith decided to transfer from Ohio State after appearing in just three games the previous season. Smith transferred to Cincinnati and was granted immediate eligibility. He played in six games in the 2019 season, catching two passes for 19 yards. Smith did not see any game action for the Bearcats last season.

5. Tyreke Johnson, DB

Johnson is among the most recent players from the 2018 recruiting class to leave, announcing his intentions to enter the transfer portal in May. Redshirted as a freshman in 2018, Johnson played sparingly the next two seasons. In June, Johnson announced he was heading to Nebraska, where he will be eligible to play right away.

6. Matthew Baldwin, QB

Verbally committing to Ohio State in December 2017, Baldwin had a unique recruiting experience. Injured at the end of his high school career, Baldwin redshirted for the 2018 season. With the departure of Dwayne Haskins Jr. to the NFL, and the transfer of Tate Martell, Baldwin was competing against Justin Fields in spring 2019 for the starting quarterback position. At the conclusion of spring football, Baldwin announced his intention to enter the transfer portal and landed at TCU. He did not see game action for the Horned Frogs in 2019 and then announced his retirement from football due to ongoing injury issues in June 2020.

7. Alex Williams, DE

A relatively late addition to the 2018 recruiting class from nearby Pickerington, Ohio, Williams initially verbally committed to West Virginia before changing his mind and making it official with the Buckeyes on Dec. 19, 2017. Williams redshirted in 2018 and then played sparingly the following season before announcing his transfer to Vanderbilt in January 2020. Williams did not see game action for the Commodores in 2020, but he enters this fall with two more years of eligibility remaining.

Part two of this series will focus on the members of the 2018 recruiting class that have been contributors for Ohio State. These players will have opportunities to not only help the Buckeyes this season, but also potentially serve as key contributors beyond 2021, if they decide to stay in Columbus.

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for buckeyescoop.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.